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preview: Warriors need some road wins
As the season winds to a close, Golden State needs to fix their woes away from home
The Golden State Warriors have Stephen Curry back, but still need to figure out some issues that have been plaguing them on the road all season. On the bright side, both Draymond Green (hand) and Andre Iguodala (old all over) are listed as probable headed into tonight’s game game against the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder.
Still no Andrew Wiggins, as he continues to be out while dealing with a personal matter.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (34-31) at Oklahoma City Thunder (30-34)
WHEN: Tuesday, March 7th, 2023 // 5pm PDT
Will it all come together for Golden State?
The Warriors are closing in on the playoffs, and have positioned themselves as well as could be expected given the absences of Curry and Wiggins. Green has missed his fair share of games too, due to a number of injuries, but this recent hand injury adds a new unwelcome wrinkle.
The x-rays were negative, but Green was clearly favoring the hand during the previous game against the Los Angeles Lakers after he returned to action. So what? Well, Green is expected to play. Though the team didn’t have a formal practice upon arrival in OKC, many took the opportunity to get shots up yesterday. Except Draymond Green, who was off getting attention on his ailing hand. As the team rounds the final bend on this regular season over the next month or so, the attention shifts towards getting right - both physically and mentally. There’s not a lot of information on the exact extent of the injury, but it is definitely a concern. Another puzzle piece to figure out… and it’s an edge that helps define everything else.
Complicating matters, Anthony Lamb, the player that has worked his way into coach Steve Kerr’s rotation (if not necessarily the hearts of a fan base that remains critical of his past) is out of games. Due to the Byzantine rules that govern these things in the NBA, Lamb’s contract limit of games played has been met. Meaning he’s done for Golden State unless they convert his contract.
Because of the financial implications (the primary implication being that “it would cost us a lot more”) that means that Golden State is going to be running lean. Kuminga has been a frequent answer lately, but he slots in more as a wing than a big. So this one will turn into a known gap in the rotation.
I’m not sure where the minutes come from if the team wants to give Green a slightly lighter load - maybe JaMychal Green, or perhps even Patrick Baldwin? Both are big drops compared to future hall of famer, Green; but that just points harder towards Draymond Green not being replaceable. One potential wild solution here would be to move Klay Thompson up a position or two, he's been rebounding well and shooting the lights out. Does Klay have some extra magic in him?
That said, these are the sorts of regular season reps that will allow the Warriors to work through some stuff before the playoffs. Against the Lakers in their last game, Kuminga couldn’t find much traction. Check out this clip from friend of DNHQ, Joe Viray, showing that there were some unexploited opportunities for these lineups - if the team can figure it out in time to exploit the defensive choices, then it's back to the win column.
This comes back to the whole “two timelines” issue, and a Warriors team that has had to make yet another round of difficult roster choices around the edges. Previously, they won a championship that was assisted by guys like Otto Porter and Damion Lee. The season isn’t over yet, but the roster gaps have been jarring compared to last season’s championship run. This team has proven that they can put it all together when needed - but it’s going to take some doing.
The question isn’t if one of the missing players can step up. We’ve seen plenty of flashes from PBJ, Kuminga, and others to ensure that it’s possible. Now, the only thing left is to do it reliably without melting down.
Thankfully, this is a very winnable game against the tanking Thunder. For a team that needs each and every one of these wins, it’s going to come down to execution.
Early game on a workday means I won’t be able to check in till after halftime at best - here’s hoping the Warriors don’t sleep through half of this game and get into a big deficit.
I’m going to call this a win, because the Warriors need it.